With all that said, I do submit the caveat that “God is the marketing department for the town meeting.” In other words, what other ways can we get people to show up for the useful work of building communities? To be atheist isn’t useful in the community context. Commonality can’t be based on a lack of belief. A flood, a tornado…etc. In ages past, these were ‘acts of God’. Now, they are known science, if still chaotic and unpredictable, and when was the last time we could instill a sense of urgency in people from a chart of climate trends? Humans are very bad at being motivated by actual science, especially when they can more easily play the lottery and pray for a million dollars to buy security sometime in the future.
The problem of religions and ignorance memes being instilled in generations of children is basically an evolutionary trap. The motivation to teach the next generations of children to ‘work the problem’ factually instead of through fear and ritual requires rituals and fears in order to change the system. Unfortunately, the rate of change of our environment is accelerating while our ability to adapt is being reduced by homogenization of cultures and infrastructures. Religions and media are building walls around themselves. People are taking sides as if they can fight their way out of fighting.
Small groups are doing great things, but going unnoticed by the masses. The best are anchored in food and sharing commons. Yes! magazine, CSA farms, and open source movements are just the first to come to my mind. Even these are permeated by ancient language and belief systems, tho; just as corporate ‘team-building’ is always built on a foundation of profit-making, our community-building language always seems to import religious overtones.